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tv   The Colbert Report  Comedy Central  August 14, 2014 1:33am-2:05am PDT

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♪ captioning sponsored by comedy central (eagle caw) (cheers and applause) >> stephen: ooh! (audience chanting) >> stephen: welcome! (cheers and applause) welcome to th "the report," everybody! whether you know it or not, i have big news for you now.
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you have joined us on an historic night. this week marks the 40th anniversary of the resignation of richard milhous jowlsworth nixon. (laughter) we were going to have a balloon drop in his honor, but, instead, we just decided to secretly drop them over cambodia. (laughter) this is a solemn day for me because nixon is my all-time favorite non-reagan president, non-cheney vice president, and non-oats quaker. (laughter) to this day, nixon's 1972 campaign poster hangs in my office. it reminds me of a simpler time in america, when my parents seemed very tall and you'd get a gold star just for using the toilet. (laughter) folks, before we delve into the so-called scandal that cost us this great leader, let's get to know the man. richard nixon was born in 1913 in yorba linda, california. even at an early age, he refused to wear makeup, which is why even his mother preferred kennedy's baby pictures.
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(laughter) after serving in the navy, nixon was elected to congress and rose to political prominence as a member of the house in the house un-american activities committee, where he accused state department official alger hiss of being a soviet spy. it was a dark time in our nation's history, when it was considered wrong for government workers to spy on americans. (laughter) in 1952, while campaigning as dwight eisenhower's runningmate, nixon wins gulfed in scandal when the media reported he received improper gifts from wealthy donors. so nixon took to the air waves and saved his reputation with what became known as the checkers speech ." >> we did get something, a gift after the election. you know what it was? it was a little cocker spaniel dog, and our little girl, tricia, the 6-year-old, named it checkers. and you know, the kids, like all kids, love the dog, and i just
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want to say this right now that regardless of what they say about it, we're gonna keep it. (laughter) >> stephen: this speech was the most skillful political deflection since stalin's infamous "yes, i have work camps, but they're filled with kittens." (laughter) a tender message. nixon's lost the 1960 election to john f. kennedy. in part due to a poor performance in the first televised presidential debate. kennedy chose to wear makeup, while nixon chose to be in black and white. (laughter) a rookie mistake. but eight years later, nixon pulled off the greatest political comeback in history, when he swept into the oval office. as president, his achievements were many. he founded the e.p.a., ended school segregation, lowered the voting age to 18 and endorsed the equal rights amendment. but his greatest achievement was restoring diplomatic relations with china.
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for which we owe nixon a lasting debt -- and china $1.3 trillion. (laughter) but this good man was forced -- (applause) yes. yes. but this good man was forced from office by his bloodthirsty enemies who, according to a partial list prepared by nixon, were everyone. (laughter) it was called watergate, a scandal so explosive some call it "watergate-gate." (laughter) not many. just me, so far. but after tonight's show... (laughter) join me now for tonight's retrospectacular -- a, the colbert special report --
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scandal in the white house, a nation betrayed. a fond look back, '74 '74 -- (applause) (chanting) (cheers and applause) >> stephen: on june 17, 1972, five men were arrested for breaking into the democratic national committee's headquarters at the watergate hotel. even worse, they ate a tobeleron from the minibar, sticking the democrats with a $22 service charge. (laughter) an f.b.i. investigation connected the watergate break-in to an elite white house dirty tricks group known as "the plumbers " because they were tasked with plugging leaks. and because of their ample ass cracks. (laughter)
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the plumbers were part of nixon's political operation, the "committee to re-elect the president," or "creep." a name that somehow escaped the scrutiny of "nixon's undercommittee for terminating self-indicting acronym choices," or "nutsac." (laughter) soon, "washington post" reporters bob woodward and carl bernstein, seen here as attractive people, began receiving and publishing leaks about the plot from an anonymous f.b.i. source known only as ""dee "deep throat". later portrayed by linda lovelace in the documentary. on may 17, 1973, the senate launched the watergate hearings, in which the president's former appointments secretary alexander butterfield revealed that nixon had recorded every conversation in his office since 1971, creating a vital historical record. just listen to this actual conversation. >> the problem with, uh -- the
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problem, however, with pandas is that they don't know how to mate. the only way they learn how is to watch other pandas mate. you see? (laughter) >> stephen: yes, for pandas to mate, they have to watch other pandas doing it. although, for mail pandas, it's just as effective to watch two females mating. (laughter) (applause) but the most famous passage m the recordings wasn't on them. it was the missing 18 1/2 minutes. nixon's secretary rose mary woods claimed she accidentally pressed "erase" with her foot on the tape recorder's pedal while reaching for the phone, a position now known in yoga as "downward facing ass cover ."
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(laughter) so what was on those 18 1/2 minutes? did those two pandas ever do it? we may never know. (laughter) sorry, we seem to be having a slight technical difficulty. could someone adjust the vertical hold? thank you. thank you very much. thank you. (applause) now, on august 8, 1974, days after the house judiciary committee had passed articles of impeachment, richard nixon became the first u.s. president to resign since william henry harrison cowardly left office after one month to spend more time with his coffin. (laughter) when we return, we will be joined by former nixon speechwriter patrick j. buchanan. please join us after these important messages from our sponsors. ♪
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♪ >> stephen: welcome back! welcome back to our nixon resignation special. to truly "know" an historical figure like nixon, it helps to actually know him. my next guest did. please welcome former nixon
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speechwriter and author of "the greatest comeback: how richard nixon rose from defeat to create the new majority," pat buchanan. pat, good to see you again! always good to have you on "the report"! >> thank you! (applause) >> stephen: pat, you knew richard nixon. you were one of his speechwriters. people see him as a tragic figure in many ways. >> right. >> stephen: who was the nixon you knew? what is he a tragic figure? >> yeah, he was, in a way. nixon had some flaws, and when the president of the united states' flaws are magnified as in many cases, it's a tragedy, and he was indecisive in watergate, too loyal to his friends, and he didn't act and if he did, he would have gone down as one of the greatest *79s. arms control, opened up china,
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saved israel in the war, brought troops home from vietnam, brought p.o.w.'s home, an extraordinary success but watergate erased it all. >> stephen: 40 years ago today the smoking gun was released. >> i was at camp david and we found it. >> stephen: tell the people what that was. >> a tape of june 3, 1972 where richard nixon was talking about containing the investigation of watergate. it was a couple of days after it and nixon had seen the tapes and said he had not talked, had basically not been discussing the so-called coverup then. what happened was when we found it at camp david we released it the next day and dropped the bottom out of -- >> stephen: the tape said he knew there was a coverup and he was encouraging the coverup? >> the tape said there was a
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coverup and he knew about it. the problem was he had not spoken the truth. >> stephen: did he destroy the tapes? >> he never should have made the tapes. >> stephen: but that's different. that's like saying, okay, should you have destroyed the murder weapon? well, better not to murder someone. (laughter) did you advise him to destroy the tapes? >> yes, i did. >> stephen: i agree with you. if you're going to obstruct justice, go all the way (laughter) (applause) >> no, no! here's where you're dead wrong. here's where you're wrong. when the tapes were revealed, not a single one had been subpoenaed. they were not evidence of anything. he had taken tapes of individuals who had not known it, the tapes operated automatically and what he should have done is kept the tapes of brezhnev and the foreign policy and john dean and tick the rest and get rid of them. >> stephen: because they had
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evidence of his obstruction of justice. >> after burning him he could have said go ahead and impeach and be damned. >> stephen: why didn't he stick out the impeachment. he's my president. i was a kid when he resigned and i always felt he was my president. >> he didn't stick it out because the house judiciary committee voted to impeach. if we didn't have to t votes in the house, it would have been sent to the senate and then would have been convicted after five or six months. those at camp david said we cannot put the country through this when we know the end is not in doubt. barry goldwater and others came down, but richard already said don't put the country through it, end it and put gerald ford in office, which was the right thing to do. >> stephen: there's an image of nixon as a paranoid, unhappy person. what was happy nixon like?
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what made him happy? >> i'll tell you a story. i was 14 years old when i met him. he was vice president of the united states. i was on the caddy bench of the burning tree country club, all men's club, eisenhower golf there. he came out there and was with the guys out there on the golf course and he was in his made 40s. he was a generally happy man. he loved the battle, the it mr. the battle. when i went to work for him up there at his law firm, he called me in and we talked for hours every day and he said if i had to practice law for a living, i would be mentally dead in two years and physically in four. what he loved was the battle, bringing the republican party back from that horrendous defeat in '64, his own ruined career and marching up the hill to where he won the presidency with the greatest landslide in american political history. >> stephen: what i love about "the greatest comeback" this is
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between '62 and '68 when he's in the wilderness from california and becomes the president of the united states, not only did he rebill at a time himself after watergate but he rehabilitated himself before he became president. this man resurrected his career twice. only jesus dieven jeez only didt once. >> he resurrected three times. >> stephen: he's the father, son and the holy ghost! (applause) pat buchanan "the greatest comeback " . what does t-mobile have that at&t doesn't?
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sweater, extra sweater oh and this is the xfinity tv go app. he can watch live tv from over 50 channels and xfinity on demand movies and shows wherever he wants. have fun, make some friends. alright? did i mention his neck pillow? (blowing) ♪
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>> stephen: welcome back to our breaking coverage of something that happened 40 years ago. (laughter) of course, at the center of the watergate scandal was former white house council john dean. joining me now is a man who knew john dean very well. please welcome john dean. john, thank you so much for joining us, good to have you here! (applause) you are the author of a book called the nixon defense what he knew and when he knew it. was watergate that big of a deal? (laughter) pat believes the tapes had been destroyed. you're on the tapes. >> i am. >> stephen: do you believe they should have been destroyed? >> i don't think so.
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it clearly would have been an obstruction of justice to destroy the tapes. when the tapes were refield by alex pet butterfield, it was on friday 13th, white house learns it over the weekend. nixon is in the hospital with pneumonia. he's told the options, one is destroyed, the other is keep them. he has one lawyer arguing obstruction of justice if you destroy them, the other says, well, they haven't subpoenaed yet, you might get away with destroying them. >> stephen: you actually served four months in prison, and what was the charge? >> i pleaded to obstruction of -- conspiracy to obstruct justice. >> stephen: in return for pleading your guilt, you testified against the president. when did you make the calculus and when did you make the calculus to turn on this good man? (laughter) >> i informed my colleagues early exactly what i was doing. first, i was going to hire a lawyer.
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when i break rank, i make it no secret. i said, i'm not going to lie for anybody, i'm going to the prosecutors. they thought it was a good idea, go to the grand jury. they didn't believe i would either remember or testify in an incriminating fashion about myself, but that was the only way i felt to really resolve the matter was to be very truthful about it, explain what happened and lay it out. >> stephen: you famously said to the president that there was a cancer on the presidency. what did you mean at the time? >> well, what i was trying to do? i was trying to get his attention. >> stephen: that would do it. it is. >> stephen: that is a fatal diagnosis. what did you mean by that? >> i meant watergate was metastasizing. it was consuming his time and the people who were part of the administration. >> stephen: why didn't nixon just cut the chaff away from him, cut everybody louis? you have to be tough to be in politics. why didn't he say harolderman,
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ehrlichman, dean, why didn't he just turn you guys to the feds and walked away? >> should have. did he ever try to turn on you? >> not till i break ranks. he's very worried about the others and me. i have too much knowledge. he doesn't know what to do. he wants to figure out how to ease everybody out and hopefully that will be enough for the public. it was just a start. i advised him we should all go. >> you knew the president as well, you heard pat out here -- >> i didn't know the president as well as pat. you know, pat is somebody, in all those tapes -- i was just telling pat before we came on, in all those tapes i listened to, nixon has something nasty to say on almost everybody who worked for him but not about pat. he really liked pat. >> stephen: nixon liked him. that's excellent for the
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tombstone. (laughter) (applause) >> stephen: all right, what did the president know and when did he know it and did -- and do you know what was on the 18 1/2 minutes of the missing tapes? >> i do. what did he know and when? he was deeply involved in the coverup from the beginning. he's not as active until after the march 21 conversation. >> stephen: did he order -- he did not order interest break-in. there's no evidence he ordered the break-in. >> stephen: dhid he order any break-in? >> oh, yes, he did. he ordered a break-in at the bookings institute during the pentagon papers. he thought they should not have a copy of that 1970 study that showed the origins of the war in vietnam so he gave instructions on three different taped conversations to break in and get those out. >> stephen: so he couldn't have known about the watergate break-in because he was too busy planning other break-ins (laughter) what was on the 18 missing
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minutes? >> it's very clear when you put the sequence together -- in fact i put an appendix in the book for that reason so people could follow it and what it was is he's discussing the coverup very early in the first days. he discusses it that evening, the next day, two days later is the smoking gun tape that really causes his presidency to end because he has set up a defense, he knew nothing about watergate till i had told him in march of '73. >> stephen: that proves he already knew. >> yes. >> stephen: were you there when this happened? >> no, but i was aware of it that morning. it was a major event. bud crow called me and said elvis wants to come in. what do you think about that? i said why? he said he wants to get a badge from the bureau of narcotics and dangerous drugs so he can be a drug enforcement officer. i said, that's kind of unusual.
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>> stephen: he certainly looks like an expert in this photo. john, thanks so much for joining me. >> thank you. (applause) >> stephen: john dean, the nixon defense. nixon defense. we'll be miller invented lite beer, the original 96 calorie pilsner, and that changed everything. this lead to fewer guys with beer bellies. which lead to more women attracted to those guys. which lead to dates, second dates, wedding bells and honeymoons. which lead to hubbada-hubbada boom! which lead to you. miller lite we invented lite beer and you. you're welcome.
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